August 28th, 2017 was the worst day of my life so far. It was the day I found out that the man who stole my heart 22 years earlier had been killed in a motorcycle crash the night before. I took the next two days off of work, and cried harder and longer than I have ever cried before in my life.
Now, lest you get the wrong idea, I want to be very clear here- he and I hadn’t been together for 22 years. If you strung together all of the days we spent together, through the years, it might equal two years, maybe three. But I feel like I thought about him every day. Whether or not that is actually true, I can’t say for sure. But it feels like it is true.
I have a peculiar glitch in my system, I think. When I let someone into my heart for real, there is no backing out. Once I love you, I love you always. It doesn’t matter what transpires, or how our paths might diverge. My heart is loyal to a fault, even when my actions and words are not.
But when I was 20, I fell in love with this man, and I loved him exactly the way a 20 year old girl would- in a crazy, hopeless way. And I am so glad I did. I am so glad I got to experience that kind of love. Over the years, I learned from those feelings the way love can evolve and become something else. Friendship and deep, deep affection. It wasn’t the same at the end, but in some ways it was better, you know? I got to experience this whole spectrum of love with him, and it has never stopped. I love him, still. He might not be here in person to tell it to, but I haven’t stopped talking to him, I haven’t stopped the conversation. Death is no barrier to love, I know that now.
In my last relationship, I learned even more about love- things I didn’t necessarily want to know, but have been valuable lessons just the same. I learned that love is not, in fact, all you need. You need other things, too- things like trust, respect, communication. Without those things, all the love in the world cannot save you. I learned that you can love someone with all your heart and hate the things they have done, and it is a struggle to grasp how this person could be capable of these things. I learned that heartbreak can change you, perhaps for good, and at the very least for a long time. Most importantly, I learned to be careful who I gave my heart to, because I do, indeed, have a particular glitch that makes my love permanent, and the repercussions of that are many.
And now, here I am, doing it again. Right now it’s little baby love, or maybe a precursor to love, and it is…lots of things. Thrilling. Scary. Awesome. Beautiful. Exciting. Worrisome. All of the things. I haven’t talked about it yet. I am old enough to know that time will tell, and that there is no harm in seeing how things unfold. But I love being fully present for all of the unfolding. I love the changes in me that allow me to be grateful and aware of the good things that are being dropped, one by one, like little gifts, into my life. I love having someone to turn to who is also turning towards me. I am on this new, unexpected journey, and I am just along for the ride. I have never done things this way before. It is good.
The thing I love most of all, though, is learning once again of my heart’s capacity to love. No matter how broken or battered it has been, eventually, it is ready to try again. It has room for one more. I can let someone else in, and never lose the ones that are already there. My heart is amazing. My ability to love is amazing. I may not be an expert, but I know a thing or two. And I am learning new things all the time.
In my heart of hearts, I believe that love is the reason we are on this earth. Learning how to love one another, how to treat one another, how to exist in a loving way with all the souls we travel with. I see how my ability to love and be loved has evolved, and I think I am getting better at it. I hope I am. Only time will tell. For now, I am content to continue figuring it out, knowing, as I do now, that I can survive whatever comes. If I survived through August 28th, 2017…I can can make it through anything.
I miss you, Joe. Can’t wait to see you again someday.